Everyone should be a feminist is a modified version of a TedxEuston talk that Chimamanda gave in December 2012. It’s a short read that could only take less than an hour to complete. Its amazing how precise, clear, interesting and inspiring a 39 page book can be.
The themes of gender bias, feminism, and masculinity have been exemplary articulated through various life experiences that Adichie shares. In the book, she describes her first encounter with the term feminist. This was when her childhood friend Okoloma told her that she was a feminist after they had a heated argument. At the age of fourteen, Chimamanda didn’t know what the word meant and vowed to check its meaning in the dictionary later.
She describes how she had to frequently adjust the definition of feminism in order to fit to the societal beliefs. First calling herself “a happy feminist” after a reporter told her that being a feminist meant that she was unhappy because she could not find a husband. She then called herself “a happy, African feminist” after she was told that feminism was a western culture and not African. at some point she had to call herself” a happy African feminist who does not hate men and likes lip gloss and wears high heels for herself and not for men.”
Chimamanda shares a story from her childhood whereby a teacher promised that whoever scored highest in a test would become the class monitor. Motivated, Chimamanda did her best to score the highest and get the privileges that came with being a class monitor. She did score the highest grade but could not become the class monitor because she was a girl. The teacher said that the class monitor had to be a boy and had not clarified that assuming that it was obvious.
Masculinity is another theme that is very conspicuous in the book. She writes “We teach boys to be afraid of fear, of weakness,of vulnerability. We teach them to mask their true selves because they have to be.” Chimamanda also says that masculinity is defines very narrowly. Its defined as a small, hard cage that boys are put in.
This is the journey of an African woman who is also a feminist and it is very similar to many other feminists stories. I would recommend this book to all readers across nations, ethnic backgrounds gender and race. Lets read and share our journeys. I give this book a 4 out of 4 stars.